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Reid Will Try to Seat Franken

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will attempt to seat Democrat Al Franken as the junior Senator from Minnesota on Tuesday, despite promised legal challenges from incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R) to the election outcome.

Reid’s move is all but certain to be blocked by Senate Republicans, who have vowed to filibuster Democratic attempts to install Franken as a Senator. The comedian-turned-politician leads Coleman with more than 200 votes, and the state canvassing board is meeting this afternoon to record the results. The election, however, must still be certified by the GOP governor and Democratic secretary of state within the week.

Democratic leadership aides confirmed Monday that Reid will try to seat Franken on Tuesday with the rest of the 111th’s incoming class of lawmakers, despite Coleman’s challenges and the fact that Gov. Tim Pawlenty has refused to certify the race.

While Reid is poised to install Franken, he has no immediate plans to seat Democrat Roland Burris as the junior Senator from Illinois. Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) tapped Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama late last month. Reid’s office has cited the lack of state certification for his decision to block Burris’ installation.

Republicans on Monday said they would reject Reid’s push to seat Franken. “I think it would be premature given all the challenges,” moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said.

GOP Senate aides said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and newly minted National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) would rally Republicans to oppose the move and warned the situation could set a negative tone for the new Congress.

“They don’t want to play this game. I do sort of have to hand it to them. What took Republicans over a decade to cultivate, Democrats do in just over two years,” one senior GOP Senate aide said. “They are making Tom DeLay’s operation look like a high school civics class.”

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